musings on memory

the elemental surrender     where peace
is the point

in silence space     a plenitude of
happening     still –

the elemental small     reaching into
forbidden space

a plenitude of happening     still –
the elementally

restful     piecing together loss
memoratively

Would you be able to steal rest away
from its rest

ful nest     catch it glimpsing at a
lazy noon     edge

of the panther’s easy eye grasping
the full measure

of the poet’s voice     midstream
before inkdry?

whereas magic has no number
whereas
               truth is grounded in the beast’s calling     whereas
               my eye is the knot through which
your vision calls
whereas the ground believes only what can be remembered

vi historicii

The procurement of distance    its wish
fulness beyond

a certain point    the very matter of its
being far    it

retains the fulcrum over an axial yearn
it is prefigured

before time became a known quantity    the
mouth of becoming

yielding again the very mass that thaws
its mummification

a historical moment    the gravity
of its opening

the tread of being when/where    the
stamp of its

becoming    the historical sense
the linkage of

thus with this    the picture of how
we came & will be

coming to terms with this wind
fall    this

treesome leaftip youthnib
coming to terms with this I

of point
& grief –

the fallout of a poem
its residual

warmth    its weight edging along the tip of
water       the edging of

a poem    its reliance on the luxury of
                 ice    the sip of

a poem    its machine of semblance &
                 catchalls    viewing wordspace

to remain in poemspace all
the time

to retain your stake in the human
ratio of reticence to

verse    the degree with which the pen
              stammers
              versus the hammer of pain & its
              resistance

The fattened acid of our age    crust of
the bellows of

hell    the plain turn of happening    this
loss of love

becoming receptive to the dry twigs of
making do with/out

drool of law

The law is naught but Ought
           Where is reason
           Able and when? which sound will
           Love make as it descends upon
The breaking of all law, the
           Sense of non/ the
           Frolick of crush and meaning &
           Tendency, pain, thresholds..


The crow, which now dominates the totem of the Haida nation, was the grandson of that great divine chief who made the world.

When the crow wept asking for the moon, which hung from the wall of tree trunks, his grandfather gave it to him. The crow threw it into the sky through the chimney opening and started crying again, wishing for the stars. When he got them he spread them around the moon.

Then he wept and hopped about and screamed until his grandfather gave him the carved wooden box in which he kept daylight. The great divine chief forbade him to take the box out of the house. He had decided that the world should live in the dark.

The crow played with the box, pretending to be satisfied, but out of the corner of his eye he watched the guards who were watching him.

When they weren’t looking, he fled with the box in his claw. The point of the claw split passing through the chimney, and his feathers were burned and stayed black from then on.

The crow arrived at some islands off the northern coast. He heard human voices and asked for food. They wouldn’t give him any. He threatened to break the wooden box.

“I’ve got daylight in here,” he warned, “and if it escapes, the sky will never put out its light. No one will be able to sleep, nor to keep secrets, and everybody will know who is people, who is bird, and who is beast of the forest.”

They laughed. The crow broke open the box, and light burst forth in the universe. – From Eduardo Galeano’s, “The Memory of Fire: Genesis”.

I’ve got daylight in here, cawed
the harbinger
I’ve got the measure of all things
stray, pray
Tell me what should I do? But there
is law that
Inhibits the stroke of the sun, the
measured qubits
Plying, playing with truth – ooof!
i’ve got day
Light in the shades of a distant
hades, you’ve
Got to speak with a bent garble to
make any sense
These dark, dark days – I’ve got
daylightinhere.

Dispossession

A fear of place, of
breeding to

Haunt the place, of
want and if

Of place, the trove
giving love

Of place, the trove
matching it

And mess of place -

If it is possible to have in language – popular or literary – hooks that thrive on an awe of the hallowed; words, poems, books that convey the sense that the key to this fascinating ineffable lies in somehow giving up your voice in favor of the few who have crossed on to the other side, the side that looks down only to be relieved; does that not goad us in forgetting genocide every took place, and even if it did, what’s the big deal?

This tree will not sound out
Beginnings; it will not prepare
A crowd to tumble the heart’s

Mend to a clearing; more acid
Is the earth’s bile dream believing
Catacombs to be phoenixes, armor

To be insufficient and the roots
Of earth as linking the ends: here
Where it starts and the outmost in

most there.

Notes from Monrovia – II

An unverified lock, at
Peace with the key of dawn, at sea, at
Tentive

To

   War as it unravels
       as it un

Derstands nothing, at
Sea;
                   the argument rolls out
                                rolls   t
Oo another seemingly benign tap
                            tap
                            tap.

Aug 25, 2016
Fresh out of a family trip to Malaysia, after taking in the expansive green, I was struck by the unapologetic African green on my hour long drive from Monrovia’s airport to the city proper. But proper it wasn’t in so many ways. The lush green of humanity that underlies all earth has its peculiar infringement here: the stark signs of an unasked for ‘development’; the fancy NGO cars contrasted with mostly older local ones; the few good expat-catering restaurants with security guards and the others unguarded, catering to locals; the expensive everything in a poor poor city.

In the sense of following two different trajectories of neoliberal development, Liberia is similar to Malaysia, only on the opposite ends of well-being; the one being a model for the other. While Malaysian greenery is being tamed to showcase exotic development, the rawness of African green has yet to be tamed; always a reminder that something more powerful lurks below the sheen that is currently being desperately aimed for.


Undone by what I admire, the in
Most anchor, the

Brass measure of all that is bold,
Is crass, is class,

The feed of foul and its brethren of
Impure, the brew

And vole that burrows each hold on
Touch and bruise.

Sep 6, 2016
Left Monrovia three days ago and came back home yesterday. Since the first impression I wrote above, I spoke with the people I worked with, getting their take on the history of Liberia and their take alone (deliberately avoiding reading up online), and this is what I got.

In the 1820s, freed American slaves (Americo-Liberians) started colonizing a number of African states including Liberia and Sierra Leone under the organizing umbrella of a religious organization, the American colonization society. By 1847, the Americo-Liberians, who had pretty much taken over the country, freed themselves of the yoke of the controlling church. This is what is referred to as Liberian Independence. More than a hundred years of being under the Americo-Liberians, the 1970s saw two favorable rulers in the 1960s and 70s in terms of having an inclusive stance towards the indigenous Liberians, especially William Tolbert who ruled from 1971 till he was executed by the ‘accidental’ indigenous military coup-leader, William Doe, in 1980. During the ten years of Doe’s rule, the Americo-Liberians tried this way and that to remove him after which the horrible civil war began in 1989, and Doe was removed by execution in 1990. Charles Taylor entered the fray during this period. In 2003, war finally ended and after a series of interim governments, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became president in 2006 and still rules.


That poet, he don’t do justice; does
Artful thought, renaissance

Crumble on a peach souffle, does heart;
don’t do justice; does wire

frame necessity capturing mouthful of
soul, prancing about the

hoary precipices of Saturn’s myth; don’t
do justice; peachy pie – chalk;

Slavery according to Aristotle

“One who is a human being belonging by nature not to himself but to another is by nature a slave; and being a man he is an article of property, and an article of property is an instrument . . . The slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave.

Hence there are by nature various classes of rulers and ruled. For the freeman rules the slave, the male the female, and the man the child.

The art of war includes hunting, an art which we ought to practice against wild beasts and against men who, though intended by nature to be governed, refuse to submit; for war of such a kind is naturally just.

Bodily service for the necessities of life is forthcoming from both, from slaves and from domestic animals alike. The intention of nature therefore is to make the bodies of freemen and of slaves different.”

“Slavery according to Aristotle”, from the book, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone by Eduardo Galeano.

Bodily service – the axe to grind
An historical allegory; would you
Refer to the nightwatchman to
Guard you against the sinning saint?

Or would you rather breathe content,
Despising the reined, despite the
Rain off course, of coarse fabric,
Taint, hubris, hued with haw & pun?